When is the Level Playing Field? Beware of Defectors!
September 10, 2015 By PEL Koroma
Dear Sulaiman Banja Tejan-Sie,
This is just to say thank you for the very good work you have done since you came to office. I listened to your discussions with 98.1 Radio Democracy on Wednesday, 9th September 2015, and may I hasten to wish you good luck in your enterprise to bring back sanity in the SLPP.
Sir, you may agree with me that if a man has not discovered something to die for, he is not fit to live. This is so with the recent arrival of Dr. Kandeh Yumkella in the SLPP, and passionately vying for the Leadership. In spite of Kandeh Yumkella being a reputable character, he is yet to discover what to die, or live for. Most people have been listening and following Kandeh since he took up gloves for the SLPP leadership. But what is worrying most party members stems from public statements made by Kandeh Yumkella. It is a clear fact that Kandeh pronounced not being a member of any of the political parties in the country, and that he has never voted in Sierra Leone.
Unfortunately for the SLPP, in Kandeh’s recent engagement with the press, he publicly informed SLPP members and the people of Sierra Leone that if he fails to get the party leadership, he has a Plan B. What is Kandeh’s Plan B? Have you quietly tried to think about such very serious statement made by a very important stakeholder in the SLPP, and its effect on the party, taking into consideration the recent past of the party? The question now that is begging for answers is how committed Kandeh is to the democratic process of the SLPP. He has actually sounded not confident in the structures of the party he wants to lead, and that the situation will only be Free, Fair, and democratic if he is coroneted as flag-bearer of the party, and that he will not settle for anything other than being the flag-bearer. That as far as KKY is concerned, the party structures will only be deemed credible when he is elected, and if any other person gets the will of the people, he will implement his Plan B. To most people, and especially the grassroots, Kandeh was actually preaching doom for the party unless he is in charge. Sir, is this the quality asset Kandeh will have to contribute to the well-being of the SLPP? But he has made it categorically clear that he is not ready to adhere to the dictate of the SLPP, and its people. Are we expecting another defection from Kandeh Yumkella and his group?
To most people, whatever that emerges from the Flag-Bearer Convention in the future, people like Yumkella are determined to thwart the efforts of the people that have struggled with SLPP since 1995. It is very clear that people have identified their leaders when Yumkella was basking in UN glory, while John Benjamin, Kanja Sesay, Kadie Sesay, I.J. Kabbah and others marched on to State House demanding respect for the SLPP from the All Peoples Congress party. It was in those terrible days that the people of SLPP built confidence in the leaders now vying for the party leadership. The people know those with whom they have slept in the cold when the vicious APC attacked the party headquarters, pillaging to rubbles. Sir, did Yumkella experience the ‘Pot Cover’ disco APC steered when they “won” the 2012 elections? Tears still roll down the cheeks of party members whenever that comes to their mind. Sir, for Yumkella to start speaking of a Plan B is scary and tantamount to disloyalty to the party. Is Yumkella tolerant?
As Secretary General of the party, and a close friend of Yumkella, you should have informed him that the 1995 SLPP has no entitlement. Political pundits believe the SLPP leaders, and all those who voted for the SLPP in 1957 bear the same stake in the party like any other person, including the party leaders at that time. All were very, very important, especially South-Eastern voters who in 1957 voted overwhelmingly for the party. All have equal stake, as a party without following is never a political party.
As the party crawls towards peace, serious consideration should be given to the case that Yumkella and his group, the KKY Movement, has with the State. This is the case because APC is a party that can cook and ‘uncook’ the hand of justice. In your 98.1 discussion, you pondered over how the APC has fingered all complaints submitted by the SLPP to the courts of Sierra Leone. The petition for the 2012 elections brought shame to you Sulaiman as a party lawyer, Bu-Buakei Jabbi, and Alex Mugbe Musa. SLPP lawyers have been exposed to ridicule many times.
Again, SLPP asked for the removal of Bernadette Lahai as Minority leader, and it turned out to be a sham, and sadly, Bernadette Lahai too keeps talking of a Plan B. And most recently, the SLPP and PMDC case has been thrown out of court, embarrassing SLPP lawyers. In most SLPP quarters, there is fear that the APC will surely rope-in Yumkella in the case against the KKY bodyguards, who were arrested at the Lungi International Airport, once he is elected as party flag-bearer. The bodyguards of KKY Movement were arrested with elements that are yet to be properly identified by the Sierra Leone Police.
Sir, APC has the ability to maliciously fabricate and dump Yumkella into the mess. It is possible the bodyguards would be forced to build up stories against him. And once arms and ammunition get attached to the evidence the Police have now, in the future Yumkella would be doomed. For now, APC has to cool-off the case with one hundred million Leones bail, perhaps waiting for the day when Yumkella is elected flag-bearer. If we are sincere, we should not forget the lies manufactured against Maada Bio during the 2012 elections, and sadly, party members made little effort to counter all untrue packages disbursed during the election campaign by the APC.
Sir, most people in the SLPP believe that it was good that those KKY bodyguards were arrested by the police. Had those 10 bodyguards advanced on the party office the day Yumkella visited the office, there was going to be a show down. Very serious destruction would have taken place at the party headquarters because to most people, their intention would have been to uproot the current group at the party office. This would have been a serious problem. Thanks to Allah the KKY bodyguards got arrested, and crisis nipped in the bud by the Sierra Leone Police.
In this light, the party should be critical of people claiming to be true democrats. In 2011, Maada Bio won the leadership of the SLPP, and unfortunately, Osu Boie Kamara defected from the party, taking away chunk of party supporters from the Northern and Western parts of the country leading to the destruction of the party. Today, the SLPP is in disarray because people rejected the call of the majority in the party. So when is a level playing field? Osu Boie Kamara stigmatized the SLPP, pointing fingers at Mende tribalism in the party. But was Maada Bio the only Mende man that contested the SLPP leadership election? He never had money like Osu Boie Kamara, and the people voted their mind, but people with money and ego rejected the wishes of the people, and went all out to bring down the SLPP just because of Maada Bio. Are people fair, democratic and tolerant in the SLPP? The party should be careful and allow the will of the people to reign.
Indeed Bio won the 2011 Convention, yet he was abandoned by those who think they are better than the party. And since that time, the Osu Boie group has stopped at nothing in forcing their way into the leadership of the party.
If you recall the 2005 Convention, Solomon Berewa was elected party leader, and instead of consolidating the force at that time, Charles Margai, Columba Blango and others left the party for selfish reasons, laying the party bare, and until the party was disgraced in the eyes of the poor party supporters. Out of desperation, ego, and thought of entitlement from Charles Margai saw the party in mud. And the poor people in the country are now wallowing in APC tribalism, corruption, recycling of corrupt officials, and exposed to injustice ever in the history of Sierra Leone.
Many party supporters are questioning the loyalty of certain party members. If you look at the current court case filed by Allie Essa Bangura, it was in your face that the Bo Convention was conducted. In your mind, you actually believed that Essa Bangura was going to win the elections because he had spent billions of Leones. And you know that you and John Benjamin organized the elections in Bo. And here again, the people voted their mind, bringing Somanoh Kapen to the Chairmanship of the party. Honestly, to most people, Kapen genuinely won the election that you conducted. As you left Bo, Essa Bangura’s group took upon themselves to deplete the decision of the majority of the party. When is the level playing field?
With all these happenings, the people have decided who their leaders are. Nothing will change the support of Alpha Timbo, a loyal SLPP, well determined to harness potentials for a better Sierra Leone. Leaders like Andrew Keili have proven the test of time. He lost the 2012 election and did not defect but stayed with the party and campaigned for Bio. Rtd. Brig. Maada Bio lost the 2005 Convention, yet he supported the leader at that time, showing absolute loyalty to the party. Alie Kabbah never abandoned the party after failing to capture the leadership of the SLPP many times.
In all, there is fear in people that Yumkella will leave the party if he fails to convince the delegates for the leadership position. He has expressed so much seriousness over his Plan B. And the fact here is that Yumkella is relatively new in the party, and for sure most people believe UN politics is quite different from partisan politics, which is new to Yumkella.
Thank you sir, and wish the party success.